How to be a more powerful manager

Many managers think their power comes from the conscious mind, so they put lots of effort into building their thinking skills, especially analysis.

Most of their power comes from their subconscious mind and this can be a powerful friend or a powerful enemy. Without realising it many managers sabotage themselves.

About 90% of what managers do is done at the subconscious level. It’s all about the pictures they hold about themselves, the words they use, and the habits they adopt. It’s about trusting their gut feelings, intuitions and listening to their bodies.

Here is what the best managers do:

  1. They deliberately develop positive rituals because they know about 90% of what they do is done at a subconscious level based on habits; therefore 90% of their success depends on having positive habits. 
  2. They take control of their subconscious mind. They know they will be as big as their self-image, or as small.
  3. They know they are creatures of habit and work to establish highly specific, positive behaviours that become automatic rituals in their subconscious minds.
  4. They understand and trust their subconscious mind, in the knowledge that it is the source of much of their success.
  5. They understand the power of words. They actively feed their minds with powerful words and thoughts. They deliberately reject words and thoughts that make them weak.
  6. They know that the people they lead will be as powerful as the thoughts they hold about themselves. They deliberately help people overcome their doubts and find their core of greatness.
  7. They understand that the seven points listed above also apply at the organisational level. They are happy to talk about the health of the organisation’s subconscious. They work to build it.

Bruce Holland was the Group Strategic Manager at the Bank of New Zealand before becoming a consultant. In 1992 he formed Virtual Group and works with many organisations helping their strategic processes.

Bruce is the author of the book: Cracking Great Leaders Liberate Human Energy at Work and the supporting Program designed to liberate human energy throughout the organisation.

Bruce is also a mentor at The early years of consulting can be a jungle with many risks before the rewards. mentors help maximise the rewards of consulting and minimise the risks of transition. He has made available Intellectual Property for other consultants who don’t have the skills or time to develop their own IP to help their clients develop organisational genius and strengthen their human energy fields.

Consultants get a bad rap. Is it deserved?

When I mention to people that I am a consultant they sometimes think it is somewhat distasteful. Even my wife has joked that I am a “conslutant.”

I’m sure you have heard the joke, “A consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, and then keeps the watch.” Well, I’m sure that some consultants deserve a bad press; but so do some policemen and some priests. Others provide real benefit. They work for a cause, know who they are and how they add value.

Who you are is who you decide to be, what you decide to do, and who you decide to work with. My work has always been about ‘Liberating human energy at work.” It’s how I assess each assignment before accepting it. The people I chose to work with believe in their people, usually more than the people believe in themselves.

I have always chosen my assignments by answering positively to three questions:

Will this be positive for me?
Will this be positive for others?
Will this be positive for the planet?

Bruce Holland

Do you want to make money or be happy?

In Mark Albion’s book, Making a Life, Making a Living, he describes a study of 1500 business school graduates that took place over twenty years.

Based on their responses to a survey, the students were grouped into two categories.

Group A (83% of the respondents) wanted to make money first, then pursue what they really wanted to do later when they had more resources.

Group B (17%), intended to pursue their true interests first, sure that money would eventually follow.

Twenty years later, there were a total of 101 millionaires in the two groups.

Only one came from Group A. There were 100 millionaires out of the 255 people in Group B.

It appears that choosing happiness over money can be a valid business decision.

There are some caveats, of course.

You need to make sure that the course of action you are considering is a viable alternative, not an altruistic fantasy.

How consultants can stand out and be noticed

To stand out and be noticed you must stand for something important. It must be something different. You must become remarkable, like a “purple cow”. As Seth Godin said in his book of the same name; you need people to tell others about you in the same way they’d tell others if they saw a purple cow.

You don’t need everyone to like you, but those who like you must like you enough to tell their friends. When I started out I aimed to attract 10%. Today with the reach of the internet the percent is probably far smaller. I had no more than 20 fans but these people kept coming back and they recommended me to others who were like them: birds of a feather.

Don’t worry too much about words. People forget them. Speak more than write. Better still, do something that’s a symbol of what you stand for. It’s how you act and look that matters more. People will never forget about how you made them feel. Simplify it.

I had a background in large corporates and I was concerned that people were giving only a small fraction of themselves to work. I saw that this was largely due to the way they were managed and the structures they worked in. I was determined to change it. 

As a founder of Virtual Group we launched our consultancy in a pinstriped tent in a park in front of the tower blocks of our major competitors. Nearly 30 years ago at the height of the rational, neoliberal ideas it did not appeal to most potential clients. But it was different. It was remarkable. It was a symbol of pinstriped quality, canvass-thin overheads, flexibility and what’s possible if you remove all the unnecessary barriers. We called it: “wisdom without walls” and my personal message was “liberating human energy at work”. Nearly 30 years later these remain the things that sustain me and the things people remember about me.

How will you stand out? How will you be different? What will people remark about you?

Bruce Holland

Going Consulting? How to be much more successful

If you are going consulting it’s important to understand your “smarts” and what makes you special because this is what your consulting clients will be buying. 

Your fingerprint of intelligence is what makes you special. Like your other fingerprint, it is something that is unique to you, yet many people don’t think about it.

Everyone has a different fingerprint of intelligence

There are nine types of “smarts”:

  1. Linguistic (“word smart”)
  2. Musical (“music smart”)
  3. Logical-mathematical (“number/reasoning smart”)
  4. Spatial (“picture/strategic smart”)
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic (“body smart”)
  6. Interpersonal (“people smart”)
  7. Intrapersonal (“self smart”)
  8. Naturalist (“nature smart”)
  9. Spiritual/Existential (“purpose smart”).

Example of Bruce Holland

Bruce’s Intelligences are from strongest to weakest are: 

  1. Strategic smart
  2. Purpose smart
  3. Self smart
  4. People smart
  5. Word smart
  6. Reasoning smart
  7. Nature smart
  8. Music smart
  9. Body smart.

The fingerprint you will need for success depends on your field of consulting. For example Bruce Holland’s consulting has been mostly in Strategy and leadership development.

For strategy the most important intelligences are:

  1. Strategic smarts is important, first, to be able to see how the organisations fits into its environment, second, how the parts could fit together better to make the whole stronger, third, to see what’s missing from the whole, and fourth, to see what’s important so they can focus their resources at this point.
  1. People smarts is important because everyone is different. It’s important to understand the client and what drives them and what makes them special, even if they don’t know this themselves. If you treat them all the same (or the way you like to be treated) you will get lukewarm results. If you treat them how they want to be treated you’ll get magic. 
  1. Self smart is important because if you don’t understand yourself on the inside there is no way you can be strong on the outside. If you don’t know who you are, there is no way anyone else can know who you are, and you’ll lack authenticity.
  1. Purpose smart has been important to me from the start. I have always had a very clear understanding about my purpose (To Liberate Human Energy at Work) and this has strengthened me whenever I worried whether I was brave enough to approach someone who seemed important and it also carried me through down times that inevitably happen.

For leadership development the fingerprint required is a bit different. People smart is probably the most important followed by self smart and purpose smart. People smart is vital to understand the person, their needs, what drives them, what is holding them back, how to communicate in words that they will understand, otherwise, you will struggle to add value to them. Again, self smart is vital for your authenticity. Purpose smart is important because unless you believe strongly why you were put on Earth you will probably not believe strongly enough that other person also has a purpose, especially if they have no idea about it themselves. For leadership development strategy smart is less important.

Recommended process

I recommend you ask at least 6 people who you trust and who know you well to rank your “Smarts” from 1 to 9.  Then think very carefully about the smarts that are most important for your area of consulting. Make sure there is a close match or find some way to overcome any deficits.

The early years of consulting can be a jungle with many risks before the rewards. has mentors and ready-made products to help maximise the rewards of consulting and minimise the risks of transition.

Bruce Holland